Sewage sets the candidates apart in Nassau County's 7th Legislative District, centered in Oceanside.
Incumbent Democrat Jeffery Toback has been a reliable supporter of the policies of Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, including Suozzi's cost-cutting plans to close the village sewage treatment plants in Cedarhurst and Lawrence and pump the effluent to the county treatment plant at Bay Park.
Republican challenger Howard Kopel, who owns a real estate services firm in Valley Stream, has taken no stand on the consolidation but accuses Toback of ignoring the anger of Bay Park and East Rockaway residents who have complained of foul odors from the plant for years.
"The bay is being fouled. The air does smell. I was down there," Kopel, a Lawrence resident, said. "When you're taking care of the sewer situation, you have to take care of those people as well."
Toback, 50, an attorney in private practice, said the Bay Park treatment plant can handle the additional 2 million gallons of sewage daily, and Republicans are "taking advantage" of the situation.
"Not every resident of Bay Park comes to the legislature to complain, and some are more willing to listen to reason than others," Toback said.
Kopel, 58, said he will fight to keep taxes from increasing and criticized "hidden" taxes.
"I believe there's a matter of being honest with the citizenry," Kopel said. "There is a hidden, regressive tax that, as I walk around, few people know about, the electricity and energy tax," referring to the 2.5 percent sales tax on home fuels the Democrats imposed earlier this year.
"Another example is the ticket on right turn," he said. "I don't condone violating the law, but I do want people to be honest and upfront about what they're doing."
The legislature passed a bill this year allowing installation of cameras to catch motorists who run red lights, but lawmakers said later they did not know it would also target motorists who make a right turn on red without coming to a full stop.
Toback said he was proud of his record since being elected 10 years ago.
"Then, we were on the brink of bankruptcy," he said. "We made tough decisions. And my record, I think, goes straight to my ability to make the difficult decision ahead."
Although Democrats and Republicans usually vote the party line on the legislature, Kopel said he could be independent.
"I will try to do what I think is right. That said, I am a Republican for a reason," he said. "If a Republican is acting like a Democrat, I'll vote against that."
There are 20,919 enrolled Democrats and 17,962 Republican in the district, which includes Bay Park, Cedarhurst, Harbor Isle, Hewlett, Hewlett Bay Park, Hewlett Harbor, Hewlett Neck, Inwood, Lawrence, Mill Brook, Woodmere, North Woodmere, Woodsburgh, and parts of Oceanside, Island Park, East Rockaway and Lynbrook.